Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Obituary: Joyce McDougall, 1920-2011(1)

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Obituary: Joyce McDougall, 1920-2011(1)

Article excerpt

Obituary Joyce McDougall, 1920-20111

With Joyce McDougall's death on 24 August 2011, one of the great figures of psychoanalysis was lost to us. An internationally recognized psychoanalyst and a passionate practitioner, Joyce McDougall was also the author of five influential books and many articles. Her work was translated into ten languages, including Hebrew and Japanese. Invited to participate in conferences the world over and psychoanalytical 'ambassador' to the Dalai Lama, McDougall worked tirelessly in a spirit of openness and freedom, combining clinical rigour and theoretical innovation with great lan.

Hilary Joyce Carrington was born on 26 April 1920, in New Zealand. Having read The Psychopathology of Everyday Life at the age of 17, she was bowled over by the discovery of Freud and resolved to study psychology. It was at the drama club of the University of Otago that she met her first husband, Jimmy McDougall, with whom she had two children. Arriving in London in 1950 with the intention of becoming an analyst, she was thrilled to meet Donald Winnicott, whose influence became crucial to her later clinical approach. Meanwhile, Anna Freud accepted McDougall for training at the Hampstead Child Therapy Course. McDougall always said that those early years in London were fundamental to her career path. On the institutional level, she was witness to the cold war between the Anna Freud group and that of Melanie Klein. But, according to Ruth Menahem, McDougall ''detested psychoanalytical chapels and obstinately refused to take sides'' (1997, p. 12). And so it was no coincidence that she undertook analysis with John Patt, a member of the 'Middle Group'.

In 1952, however, McDougall took the critical and painful decision to leave behind her London activities and follow her husband to Paris. There, on Anna Freud's recommendation, she embarked on another degree course under the auspices of the Psychoanalytical Society of Paris (SPP). She began to practise as a child and adolescent psychotherapist and resumed her analysis with Marc Schlumberger (later on, she was analysed by Michel Renard). A great admirer of Maurice Bouvet, she took him as her training analyst. And during this period, McDougall came in contact with the institutional conflict that was to precipitate the first split in the French psychoanalytical movement. Deciding to stay at the SPP, to which she was elected a permanent member in 1961, McDougall occupied several official posts at the Society and worked successfully to make the training protocol relaxed and more personalized. In his tribute to Joyce McDougall, Jean-Luc Donnet (2011) reminds us that she played a crucial role in fostering exchanges between London and Paris, calling on her ties with the British Psychoanalytical Society in order to invite some of its most well-known members to France, among them Hanna Segal, John Klauber and Donald Winnicott.

Collaborating with Serge Lebovici in 1960, McDougall published her first book entitled Un cas de psychose infantile [A Case of Childhood Psychosis]: a work much noted at the time and a standard reference later, renamed Dialogue with Sammy (McDougall and Lebovici, 1989[1984]). But it was the 1978 publication of Plea for a Measure of Abnormality that really secured her reputation.

Joyce McDougall's undeniable discernment, the multitude of issues that she addressed in her writings and the innovative character of her ideas, contributed to her growing international reputation. Much solicited, she readily accepted speaking invitations from far and wide. In 1987 she was made an honorary member of the Association for Psychoanalytical Medicine in New York; in 1990 she was awarded membership of the New York Freudian Society; and in 1991 she joined the training team of the Object Relations Institute in New York. Among many other honours, in 1996 she received the Gradiva Award for her last book The Many Faces of Eros (see Menahem, 1997, p. 19).

In her personal life, McDougall found happiness with Sydney Stewart, an American survivor of horrific Japanese captivity. …

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